I've only been here three days but I'm already pretty comfortable. I guess I'm lucky in the fact that I learnt to adapt to new surroundings and situations, quickly, early on. Arriving in foreign France, with a huge six words of French, on a Thursday night and being put into the local school on the Friday morning teaches you a few things. Such as the guessing game of when to say Oui or Non: if they laugh, as they often did, you've got it wrong!
But it's not all down to my impervious character, no it's actually thanks to my Indian family. Even being well aware of the famous Indian hospitality I was in for a treat. They threw open their arms to greet me with heartfelt kindness, smiling and seeing to my every need. Then it was onto the food, what a banquet of spice and taste. There was only four of us and yet 3 vegetable dishes, 2 meats, dhal, rice and rotis (bread) were all laid out on the table.
I think the first thing I learnt about the Bengalis was just how much they love their food. "Live to eat" don't "eat to live".
As a foodie myself, that first meal was all I needed to feel at home. I believe "home is where the heart is" but actually, with two resident chefs, it's always been where the good food is!
I was very thankful for such an extravagant first meal and when they said it was nothing I just thought they were being modest. Turns out though, that every meal is a feast like affair here.
I was told I was to be treated as their son, which involves an awful lot of pampering, something I'm not very accustomed to or really know how to deal with. Telling an Indian that you don't want anymore of this dish or that pudding falls on completely deafened ears. It seems rude to contradict, as it is by no means a question and more like an order. I've had to learn the hard way that you have to forget your Western manners about finishing everything on your plate because out here, an empty plate means a not full enough stomach! As for eating customs everything is done with the right hand, no need for useless cutlery, the heat and texture of the food is first touched and then tasted. The left hand is a strict no no though! Some people won't even accept money out of it.
My family have taken it upon themselves to give me a full Indian education and answer any questions that I may have, to which my reserve seems infinite. My first lesson, which I will most certainly have to meditate on later, was "you will either consume or be consumed by India".
I'm not sure what the answer is to that one, if there is one at all but I do know I'm taking the whole thing in and trying not to get overwhelmed!
Indian home, checked off the list next stop Indian Job.
- Kolkata, West Bengal, India
- 21yrs old Born in England, Brought up in France. BScEcon, Marketing at University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Traits: Smiley, annoyingly optimistic, altruistic, open minded, pragmatic, agnostic, ironic, perfectionist, knows he can be pretentious, stubborn and sardonic. Traveler, experiencer, novelty junkie. Carpediem to the core.